The heatwave this summer has caused subsidence problems for homeowners across the country – leading to a big hike in insurance claims.
It may seem like a distant memory for most of the UK recently, but our sweltering summer broke a couple of records this year and one not so welcome.
Not only was 2018 the joint hottest summer on record for the UK, but it also caused a 350% increase in the number of subsidence claims – the largest quarter-on-quarter since records began over 25 years ago.
More than 10,000 households made claims for subsidence during July, August and September this year, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has revealed – the highest we’ve seen since the heatwaves in 2003 and 2006.
What does a heatwave have to do with subsidence?
Some regions of the UK faced the driest months on record, which was particularly problematic in areas where there’s clay soil, like the South East. This kind of soil is most likely to be affected by subsidence, as it’s prone to shrinkage when it dries out.
Claims increased to around 10,000 from 2,500 and rose in value from £14 million to £64 million.
The ABI’s Senior Policy Adviser for Property, Laura Hughes, said: “Thousands of people across the UK are now suffering because we experienced such an unprecedented period of dryness this summer. Insurers understand this is a stressful time for affected homeowners and are providing widespread support to help with repairs.
“Our advice is don’t panic if you spot a crack in your home – there are many other reasons why these may have occurred. Get in touch with your insurer if you believe your home is experiencing subsidence and they’ll be on hand with the best expertise and the best technology. Insurers and their appointed loss adjusters are very well equipped to deal with these types of complex claim.”
Admiral Home Insurance has a few pointers to help you tell the difference between subsidence and general wear and tear. Subsidence cracks:
- Usually appear suddenly, rather than gradually
- Tend to run diagonally and are usually wider at the top than the bottom
- Are generally thicker than a 10p coin
- Are often found near windows and doors
- Can cause wallpaper to rip or wrinkle
- Can cause doors and windows to stick